How can alt data help us understand the effects of Brexit?

Sondra Campanelli, Head of News and Marketing (London)

Neudata Events
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It hasn’t happened yet, but a range of alt data sources are key indicators for the repercussions of the UK’s (expected) exit from the European Union, delegates heard at the Neudata London Summit 2019.

Neudata analyst Amy Dafnis and Toscafund Chief Economist Dr Savvas Savouri presented a selection of datasets that give clues as to who - and what - is and will be affected by Brexit.

“Brexit has far-reaching implications that are difficult to predict at this point,” said Dafnis. “However, alternative data offers one way to better understand its potential macro-level impacts. These alternative indicators are receiving increasing attention from academia, governments and investors.”

Dr Savouri was blunt: “I don’t think there is any event that has more importance to not just the UK but also Europe than the general election that looms.

“A bad Brexit will be bad for not just the UK but also for the EU27; we all need a good Brexit. A hung Parliament will be a disaster; a second referendum simply prolongs the uncertainty.”

Dr Savouri cited statistics on the number of UK National Insurance registrations (which have continued to rise among foreign nationals since the 2016 Brexit referendum) as evidence of international commitment to the UK labour market.

Other datasets useful in this context include the amount of money that is sent home by migrants, tourism from the UK and its nationals working in it, and earnings within Europe by UK-based businesses.

Meanwhile, the amount of EU investment in the UK’s economy via ownership of major companies in sectors including banking, utilities and transport is an indicator that Europe must be economically committed to cooperating with the UK for a good Brexit – or at the least, a deal as opposed to a crash out, he argued.

Dafnis was clear: those relying on social media to get a handle on the pre-Brexit mood are advised to put their ‘facts’ in context. The digital divide means a large proportion of the population are still not online. Others are disloyal to platforms, or choose to share and search for different sorts of information depending on which platform they are using: Twitter vs Facebook vs Instagram.

As we all know: what you see on social media is nowhere near the whole story.